Looking for your dream home is tricky. Especially if you’ve never been through the home buying process before, it can be easy to make missteps or to get caught up in small details that really don’t make much difference. With that in mind, we’re here to help. We’ve pointed out four of the most common house hunting mistakes, as well as how to avoid them. Keep reading to make sure you stay on track.

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house hunting mistakes

Don’t forget to get a pre-approval before shopping. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Mistake: Not getting pre-approved before looking

Getting a pre-approval should be every buyer’s first step toward buying a home. This document, which comes in the form of a letter from the mortgage company, will tell you how much money you’ll be able to receive in a loan. It’s crucial in helping you set your own budget, as well as showing sellers that you’re serious about buying their home. You’ll include a copy of the letter with every offer you submit in order to prove you’re financially fit to purchase the property.

The Fix: Go see a lender before you even talk to a real estate agent. He or she can help you figure out how much of a loan you can be approved for as-is and, if needed, assist you in figuring out what steps to take to improve your financials and increase your loan amount. Once you have a satisfactory pre-approval in hand, then you can start shopping.

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Work out your own budget. Image: Pics721/Shutterstock

Mistake: Forgetting to set your own budget

While a pre-approval is a necessary tool to have, it should not be the only detail that factors into setting your house hunting budget. Remember, the pre-approval shows the maximum amount that you’ll be given in a loan. You don’t have to spend that much, though, and you probably shouldn’t. You need to make sure that you’ll be able to handle your mortgage payment on top of your other recurring monthly expenses.

The Fix: Make your own budget – and stick to it. You can start by using a mortgage calculator to estimate what your monthly payment could look like at a variety of loan amounts. Then, when you find a point where you feel comfortable, work that figure into your monthly budget to make sure it makes sense when combined with the rest of your expenses.

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Hire a good real estate agent whom you trust. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Mistake: Not hiring an agent

Especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer, navigating the world of real estate can get tricky. Though hiring an agent is an extra expense, it’s a necessary one. An agent is there to be your advocate. He or she will help guide you through the process, steer you clear of house hunting mistakes, answer any questions that you may have and negotiate on your behalf. You don’t want to go through this process without someone in your corner.

The Fix: Make sure you hire a good real estate agent whom you trust. Do your research and check out several agents’ backgrounds before you commit to working with anyone in particular. Read online reviews to get a sense of how their other clients felt about working with them. Interview them in person to make sure you feel comfortable.

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living room

Look beyond the aesthetics. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Mistake: Fixating on aesthetics

We get it: when interior design is bad, it’s really bad. It can be hard to get past having a thousand shades of paint on the walls or a kitchen that looks like it was last remodeled in the 80s. However, if you let yourself get tripped up by those small details, you could be missing out on the ideal property for you. At the end of the day, aesthetics can be fixed.

The Fix: Do your best to put aesthetics aside when you look at a property. If you decide to buy it, you can always work on remodeling down the road. Instead, focus on features that can’t be as easily remedied and make sure you’re happy with those first. Here, we’re talking about things like the location and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.